The Bone Ship’s Wake – RJ Barker

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The sea dragons are returning, and Joron Twiner’s dreams of freedom lie shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge.

Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child Joron takes every opportunity to strike at his enemies, but he knows his time is limited. His fleet is shrinking and the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body. He runs from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer, will end the entire world.

But the sea dragons have begun to return, and if you can have one miracle, who is to say that there cannot be another?

So here we are. The final chapter in RJ Barker’s Tide Child trilogy, which started back with The Bone Ships, Barker’s magnificent world of shipwives and deckchilder, sea monsters and ships made from their bones. Fleet ships and Black Ships of the dead, and the mysterious gullaime. There’s a clear love of this world and it absolutely shines through on the page.

After the setup and worldbuilding in the first book, the action ramped up in The Call of the Bone Ships, leaving us on tenterhooks waiting for the third book.

And boy, was it worth the wait. Barker has once again pulled off that rare trick – the trilogy where every book is better than the last. He did it with the Assassin’s trilogy, and he’s done it here again. And the first book in each was pretty darn good to start with.

There’s absolutely no messing around here and we’re straight back into the thick of the action with D’keeper Joron Twiner in charge of the Tide Child and his Shipwife, poor old Lucky Meas having a not great time. RJ Barker is very mean to Meas in this book.

The plot simply roars along like a nor’easter in a hurricane (look, I’m no good at the nautical stuff), with sea battles, giant sea dragons, double-crossing, piratical piracy and other exciting stuff. And there’s an awful lot of it crammed into the 500+ pages here. But it’s the characters that make this book shine. Meas and Twiner are simply splendid creations (if not always very nice ones), but there’s a motley crew aboard the various vessels in the fleet and more than a few dastardly types on dry land too.

The Bone Ship’s Wake is a quest for revenge. Joron is [spoilers if you’ve not read the first two in which case WHAT ARE YOU DOING GO READ THEM OMG] out to rescue Meas and nothing will stand in the way of the dreaded Black Pirate. Nothing.

Be warned, no matter what RJ will try and tell you, it’s not all kittens and puppies and jelly and ice cream at the end. It wouldn’t be an RJ Barker book without you reaching the final pages with a sigh and a sense that it’s suddenly really dusty in here and I appear to have something in my eye and OMG RJ WHAT DID YOU DO.

What RJ has done is deliver us the perfect conclusion to a simply splendid trilogy.

Hugely recommended. Now, where did I put my shipwife hat?

The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker is published by Orbit and is out in paperback now. Huge thanks to Nazia Khatun at Orbit Books for the review copy of the book.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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